There was a time when even the most humble object was crafted with love, care, imagination, skill, and sometimes even humor. Witness this fine Victorian Pen Wipe. Perhaps Pen Wipes are not familiar objects today, but when dip pens were in daily use, their nibs required wiping, and often, instead of a plain cloth, Pen Wipes were fashioned out of layers of cloth and embellished. Sometimes they were decorated with a small stuffed animal, sometimes with embroidered hearts, sometimes they were made in the shape of hands, or hearts in hands... but I have never seen or heard of an umbrella before. This is a rare piece.
Last year the antiques world was surprised when a small collection of Pen Wipes became auction stars, the best soaring into the $2,000 - $5,000 range at a well known Pennsylvania auction, firmly establishing Pen Wipes as an Antiques category to watch. They had arrived. There was an article in the Maine Antiques Digest about the auction, mentioning that during the sale the auctioneer suggested that folks bring him their Pen Wipes for future sales. Well, here is one of the very best for you... and no worries, you won't have to compete at auction!
This is a fantastic Pen Wipe. The handle and point of the umbrella are fashioned out of finely turned wood and painted black. The umbrella does not open, but each section is created with an outside layer of black wool (or perhaps wool and silk), and lined with a layer of red and inside that a layer of dark green wool. All the edges are pinked, and the outside black fabric is intricately embroidered. the bow on the handle is red silk, as is the red fabric at the tip.
CONDITION is great, with the only problems being some minor losses to the embroidery and age splits to the bow as shown in the photographs. The piece appears never to have been used, I would guess it was given and kept as a treasured gift. Measures 7 11/16" long, with the fabric portion measuring approximately 3 1/4".
Not just unusual, but downright rare, this is a unique and fabulous piece of Americana. Enjoy!
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